Saturday, March 14, 2009

Too Tall Alice

Too Tall Alice
by Barbara Worton

(Great Little Books / 0-979-06611-5 / 978-0-979-06611-5 / Illustrated by Dom Rodi / March 2009 / Ages 9-12 / 32 pages / $15.95 hardcover / $12.44 Amazon)

Reviewed by Susan Higginbotham for PODBRAM

The heroine of this picture book is four inches taller than any of the other eight-year-old girls at her school. One evening, Alice hears her father telling his neighbors at a card party, “She’s going to be tall and thin, a string bean, a bean pole, a twig, a long drink of water, a tooth pick.” Alice cries herself to sleep, only to have a dream that teaches her the importance of accepting herself for what she is.

Worton has a breezy, pleasant style of writing, and the book is jauntily illustrated and laid out, but Too Tall Alice wasn’t a success for me, chiefly because I felt that the story was undeveloped. Alice doesn’t arrive at her epiphany through any effort on her own part—she simply falls asleep and has the book’s message delivered to her via a dream. She doesn’t even get a chance to confront her father about the remark that was so upsetting to her.

I was also put off by the book’s lack of subtlety. Even younger readers in this age group tend to be fairly media-savvy, yet Worton doesn’t trust them to figure out Too Tall Alice’s theme for themselves. Instead, she hammers it home, which is likely to be irritating to older children.

On the plus side, I enjoyed the word imagery here: “a big smiling sun with lots of teeth” was one of my favorites. Despite my reservations about this particular book, I think Ms. Worton has a bright future ahead of her.

Editor’s Note: Although the Amazon listing shows Ages 9-12 for Too Tall Alice, the reviewer’s opinion is that Ages 7-10 would be more appropriate.

See Also: Bedtime Stories, Barbara Worton's first book
Barbara Worton's Authors Den page
Interview with Barbara Worton

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